Google today announced a number of search features that make it easier for you to find your own personal information through Google Search. The search engine can now find information about your upcoming flights (“Is my flight on time?”), hotel or OpenTable reservations, package delivery information (“When will my package arrive?”), your purchases and what’s on your calendar. Just like on Google+, you can also now use the regular Google search to find your own photos through queries like “Show me my photos of beaches.”
All of these features are opt-out and will roll out to all users in the U.S. in English over the next few days. It’ll be available on all platforms, with the exception of Google Glass, and you can, of course, also use Google’s voice recognition to ask your questions.
If you are familiar with the Gmail Search Field Trial and, of course, Google Now, you’ll have seen some of these cards pop up in your searches over the last few months. As a Google spokesperson told me, though, today’s launch only graduates a subset of the Gmail Search Field Trial and for now, the trial will continue as a test bed for new features for those who want to remain on the cutting edge. Over time, Google expects to bring more of the Field Trial feature to the rest of Google Search.
Except for the photos (a feature that was previously only available on Google+ and which analyzes your uploads to Google+ Photos), Google extracts most of this information from your Gmail inbox.
Given the privacy implications and sensitive nature of some of this information, it’s interesting that Google has decided to make this feature opt-out. As Google notes, all your information is sent over encrypted connections and only visible to you when you are signed in to Google. You can always turn it off completely (look for the new “Private results” section in your search settings) or on a per-session basis by clicking on the globe icon at the top of the search results page.
You can find a list of some of the queries that Google can now answer here. Below are a few examples:
- Flights: Ask Google “Is my flight on time?” to get info on your upcoming flights and live status on your current flights.
- Reservations: Ask for “my reservations” to see your dining plans or “my hotel” to get your hotel name and address. With one tap, you can get driving or public transit directions straight there, saving you lots of steps.
- Purchases: Ask for “my purchases,” and you’ll get the status of your current orders, so you know whether your mom’s birthday present will arrive on time.
- Plans: Ask Google “What are my plans for tomorrow?” to see a summary of upcoming flights, hotels, restaurant reservations and events — very useful when you’re traveling.
- Photos: Say “Show me my photos from Thailand” to see the photos you uploaded to Google+. You can also ask for “my photos of sunsets” if you want to show off the shots you’ve taken over the year; Google will try to automatically recognize the type of photo you’re asking for.
As Google tells me, the system is quite flexible in recognizing questions, and even though these queries are guaranteed to bring up the new search results, similarly phrased questions may also work.